Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 5

Over two months now on Ubuntu, I think closer to three and everything is going well. I like the OS. One of the things I have looked at is cross platform applications, or at least applications that have versions for all OSes.

One of the applications that I have fallen in love with is Dropbox. Dropbox right now is my favorite Cloud Computing app. It runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, and iPhone. As a matter of fact, I have it on every computer I own whether it is physical of virtual. The couple of PCs where I don't have it on at work, I can access my files on Dropbox through the Web Interface. I just love the ease and flexibility.

Installing on Uuntu:
Open an account with Dropbox. You get 2 gigs free.

1. Download the Linux version (get the Deb package).
2. Open it. It should open with by default with Package Manager. Run/install it.
3. Now go to the Applications Menu, and run the app. This actually installs the application.
4. You may need to log out log in.
5. Now everytime you log in, it will be running. It will be on the top right for Linux.

Here are other applications that have crossed over from my Windows to Ubuntu just fine:
1. Citrix client - Again download the Deb package. Super easy install with Package Manager.
2. Nero CD/DVD burner has a version for Linux (Deb package) runs great.
3. Avast Antivirus - not as good as Windows version; but it installs. Viruses are not as much an issue on Linux, so I am not as concerned.
4. Keepass - You know I love Roboform, but they in their infinite wisdom refuse to have a Linux version, so Keepass has become my cross platform Password app. In Ubuntu 9.l0 the easiest thing is to use the Package Manager, don't bother trying to download and install manually. Make sure you have all the Universe Repository turned on. I like to have all of them turned on.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 4

In order for using 3-D Graphics I had to do a little work.

1. Select the System menu/Administration/Hardware Drivers/Scan.
2. My Laptop is a Thinkpad T61, so it showed two choices of NVIDIA drivers. I chose the recommended one - NVIDIA 185 (Recommended). And selected "Activate".
3. It goes to download the driver, but you have to enter your password.
4. Open a Terminal Window, and type: nvidia-xconfig, enter.
5. You need to re-start xserver, so either sudo startx from terminal, or restart which will work.

Next I wanted to activate 3-D effects and activate the Cube.
1. Go to the System/Administration menu.
2. Select the Packet Manager
3. In Package Manager, install "compizconfig-settings-manager".
4. After that is installed, go to the System Menu/Preference
5. Select the compizconfig-settings Manager
6. In the effects, select 3DWindows/Enable Desktop Cube
7. Disable Desktop Wall because it is redundant with the Desktop Cube.
8. Restart again.
9. After that, go to the System Menu/Preference
10. Select the compizconfig-settings Manager
11. Select Desktop/Rotate Cube
12. Now in bottom right corner, you should be able to rotate the desktops. I like to have 4, but how ever many you like.


File is larger than the maximum size supported by data store

I created a VM with all the disks and configuration on one data store. That data store had been configured with the default 1 meg block size. I then configured another data store, but as I was configuring the vmfs I wanted larger block size. I used the 8 meg block size.

Before I added the second data store and added the disks to the Virtual Machine the Virtual Machine Snapshot worked good; but then I then noticed that I could no snapshot any more. The error I got was in part: "File is larger than the maximum size supported by data store".

The first obvious thing to me was, "shoot, I need to put all the vmdk(s) on the data store with the largest block size". To do this you have to do a Migrate of the data store. This is what is so cool about VMWARE with all the bells and whistles. If you have a drive (storage) filling up, you can just migrate the disks to another storage location while the machines are on. In my case, I shut it down because it was not in production anyway.

While doing a Migrate, I choose Data Store, and then Advanced on the next screen. Doing "Advanced" allowed me to pick and choose the different vmdk disks. I had 6 disks in this server and only wanted to move 4.

After it was done I powered on and tested the Snapshot. Still got same error. I did a little digging and it seemed like I had done the right thing, so I was perplexed. I asked a consultant and he said to open a case with VMWARE. I did. Surprisingly, I was on the right trail, but did not realize that I needed to move the "Configuration" file also. This puts all of the machine's files on the same Data Store. For this you do have to do a cold migrate.

I shut the VM down, and did the same steps I mentioned above, but this time while in the "Advanced" screen, I only chose the "Configuration File". Choose the same "data store" that the vmdk(s) were on and moved it. I did notice some extra messages I have not seen before. This referred to "registering with new host". That was interesting.

When it was done. I fired it up. I did a Snapshot. Voila! It worked.

One thing I noticed was that it took the VM out of the resource pool it was originally in. No biggie. I just dragged and dropped it back in.

VMWARE allowed me to do some heavy duty work without breaking much of a sweat. Pretty cool. I hope this helps somebody else.

For more information. Go to VMWARE's site and search on KB article 1012384


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 3

The next thing I tackled was the wireless networking on my Laptop. Ever since version 8, I do not think I have had many issues with the Wireless Networking in Ubuntu. Basically these are the steps to add a WPA Wireless Network:

1. Right Click Networking top right.
2. Edit Connections.
3. Wireless/Add.
4. Connection name: Give it any name you want, I just use the same as SSID.
5. SSID: SSID name.
6. Wireless Security.
a. Security: Wpa & Wpa2 personal
b. Password: xxxxxxx
c. Available to all users: I did yes (check box)
7. Apply.
8. Enter password (sudo password)
9. Authenticate.
10. Close.

Now if you are going to add a "hidden" network, left click on the Networking Icon, and choose "Add Hidden Wireless Network". Then follow the steps. I made the mistake, of doing the "Edit" then add, and even though I put in right information, it did not work; but if you choose the "Add Hidden Wireless Network", it seems to work great.

One thing I found is, that on the hidden Wireless Network that I connect to quite often, sometimes I have to fiddle with the on/off wireless button or the enable or disable network for it to connect. It will always connect, but sometimes it seems like I have to do that.

Other than that, the wireless on the Ubuntu 9.10 works pretty good. I might say again, that I am running on an IBM Thinkpad T61.


Rant on Antivirus

The question has become in my mind, and in the mind of others like me: Is it worth having antivirus software at all? It seems like every computer I fix (clean viruses), has antivirus on it. Also antivirus is the cause of much problems themselves. Even today, our Pastor's Computer would not work. The culprit, no, not a virus, but the antivirus software by Comcast. My friend who fixed it, said it basically pegged the Processor and you could not do anything at all.

I still believe in Antivirus, but in a layered approach. I think you are better off stopping as many as possible before they even get to the PC. Then isolating the browsing as much as possible, or using third party software to stop the scripts that are the cause for so much malware taking over the PC.

That aside, someone else asked this week for rating on Antivirus. Funny because I had just read an article in Maximum PC where they rated various packages. They gave Symantec a real good score, which to me is funny because I really don't care to much for Symantec. Here is another point. Opinions may differ based on the mileage that you have received. If at any point you experience trouble with antivirus software, you then form a bit of an opinion towards it.

Well, here is my little rant on what I think of various packages. Keep in mind that I am not trying to sway anyone to or from a package, although I would argue strongly for the point of Firewalls, isolation, and sand boxing when it comes to protection.

Generally this is some of the criteria I would evaluate Antivirus Software on:

1. Performance on the client: low cpu/mem (footprint), but good ratio of protection.
2. Ease of install.
3. Should not be intrusive.
4. Ease of use (schedules, updates, interface)
5. Price
6. *Important to larger installs* Management console: Roll out ease, upgrade, Maint!!!! Can't stress this enough.
7. Tech support or some kind of availability of Vendor.

1. Performance: 1. NOD32, 2. AVG (Workstation) - 1. Sophos (Server)
2. Ease of install: 1. On client they are about even: NOD32, AVAST, AVG (Standalone) 1. Sophos Workgroup or Enterprise - (but only because it works, it is still more complicated.)
3. Should not be Intrusive: 1. NOD32, AVG (Standalone) 1. Sophos (Workgroup or Enterprise).
4. Ease of use: 1. NOD32 2. AVG 3. AVAST (Worstation, Standalone) 1. Sophos (Workgroup or Enterprise).
5. Price: FREE is good for home, but not for Work: Home - I vote AVAST. Work: I do not vote. They all play games with pricing, but I would not pay for Symantec or McAffee.
6. Management Console - for home not an issue, for larger work-groups: 1. SOPHOS 2. Trend Micro 3. Pick your poison.
7. Tech Support: 1. Sophos Hands down (but you need to be under contract).

I use in my daily arsenal home/free/paid:

AVIRA (CD), AVAST (Windows and Linux) and NOD32. Also always install Malwarebytes. I also carry the slew of other Antiviurses and Spyware scanners including Combofix.
I highly recommend always setting up OPENDNS as the DNS service and turn on filtering.
I highly recommend Scanning emails AT the source: Postini or Google or whatever.
I highly recommend Scanning port 80 traffic at the source in/out - something like Barracuda or even something cheap or free.
I highly recommend Firefox with NoScript or Chrome (highest rated for security) - stay away for Internet Exploder and only use for what is needed.
One thing that at least the techies can do is sandbox your selves in a virtual machine for browsing and downloading - preferably a Linux VM with above mentioned browsers. because then, the chance of getting bit is pretty darn low.

What say you?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Darn .Net Frameworks updates!

Microsoft's Net Frameworks Service packs can be a pain to put on, not only do some take forever, but I have had problems putting them on. They fail to install. I found that this tool "dotnetfx_cleanup_tool" helps. It will uninstall all the Net Frameworks software, which allows you to start new and put them back on one at a time which seemed to fix my problems. I had to uninstall both 2 and 3. After I uninstall-ed them, I re-installed, then put on the updates and it worked.


Ubuntu Log - Entry 2


The first I found out is that I could quit trying to install programs the old Linux way I had learned, that is, always from the command line. First look at the Synaptic Package Manager. If you need to install an old favorite Windows Program, you would be surprised how many have Linux versions. For example VLC. I have been using VLC for a long time, well is part of the Ubuntu packages.

Instead of creating on Log entry for each program, I am going to describe how to do the Package Manager, then list the programs that I found that I wanted already in there.

1. From the Ubuntu interface, select System, then Administration, and Synaptic Manager.
2. For VLC, just type vlc in the "quick search" and select vlc. You will notice that other items get selected automatically. The Package manager automatically knows what the dependencies are needed and installs them for you.

Other Programs I used in Windows that I found automatically in Package Manager:

1. Thunderbird
2. Putty
3. Sunbird

Also, this also means other programs that may not be Windows but that you had to install manually in the past. Look at Package Manager first before you try anything else. It will save you a lot of work.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ubuntu Log - Entry 1

Well, like I said, I have had to move to a more "Linux" world. Not totally, I still have my Windows world to maintain, but now I have to also work with Linux. Because of this, I needed to run Ubuntu on my Hard Drive, not just in a Virtual Machine as I had before.

Now not wanting to just blow away my Windows 7 installation. I first decided to use a fresh hard drive. So I kept my Ubuntu install in, and then switched to my Windows 7 when I needed to run Windows.

This worked OK for a couple of months, but I found it annoying. So for the first time in a long long time I went to a dual boot. Now I have not needed to dual boot for a long time since Virtual Machines are so easy to set up, but I need to run native both Operating Systems.

Why? I need Ubuntu on the hardware because I need to test it on the hardware. I need to see how it works in all situations running on the hardware. I have to switch to Windows because there are still applications that only run on Windows. For one my book keeping software, and I found that you can't beat Windows 7 for projectors. I had some problems with Ubuntu in that area.

Ok, I had a lot of work into the configurations of both my Windows and Ubuntu. So my idea was to take a fresh hard drive and image the Windows drive into one partition, and then take the image of the Ubuntu and put it in the remaining partition. For this job I used Terabyte imaging software for DOS. DOS is deceiving, it works on all Windows and Linux, they call it that for some odd reason. Then they had another product called "Boot Ng" that becomes your boot manager. It works great, but I could not get it to boot the Linux partition after I put it on there. The fault was me, I could not understand how to make it work that way.

So, for now I conceded and I will go back and figure it out later. I left the Windows partition on, cleaned out the Linux partition and installed Ubuntu fresh on that partition. From past experience it is always better on a dual boot between Windows and Linux to put Windows on first. Linux is a lot smarter with disks that Windows.

After putting Linux on, the dual boot worked perfectly. Next Personalizing Ubuntu.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Frustrating Window problem: My Documents Opens Upon Boot!

My Documents Folder - Opens Upon Boot

To Stop Windows Explorer from opening My Documents: Check your settings here: Start/Run/Regedit

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon

In the right pane under Userinit - Change the key that reads:


And also here: Start/Run/Regedit


Replacing my Windows 7 Laptop with Ubuntu 9.10

I read an article a couple of years ago on Maximum PC where the editor decided he was going to switch from his Windows machine to a Mac for a period of 3 months (could of been different time), and force himself to learn the Mac. I have been using Ubuntu off/on since their version 6, but not as my main OS. After converting from Vista to Windows 7 early on -- I was running Windows 7 since beta all the way through the release last year, I was real happy. Windows 7 is a great improvement over Vista, and in my opinion an XP killer.

So why would I want to choose to change? Well, I kept looking at the things Ubuntu can do. I believed that it has become an Operating System that a normal user can use. Not a computer guy like me that can struggle and figure out weird computer things, but a normal type of "I just want to use the darn thing" type of user.

And, I also did want to be just a user. I actually need to do real work other than install, configure and trouble shoot my own laptop. In the past, I spent more time trying to get Linux to work, than actually doing any other work. With Ubuntu, there is a great productivity right out of the box. You really just install it and use it.

Now, don't let me kid you, because after just using it, I started to change it and see what makes it all tick. I also get great Linux experience, without having to go it alone. Ubuntu help on the Internet is great! Try searching for help on Red Hat vs. Ubuntu.

So I am going to write short blogs, each stating one thing I have done on my Ubuntu laptop to configure it the way I like it. Maybe by doing that, someone else will find it easier to do theirs.

I also would welcome any ideas or suggestions.